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Special Civil Part

Special Civil is one of three sections of the Superior Court's Special Civil Part. The other two sections are Landlord/Tenant and Small Claims. Special Civil is limited to cases in which the demand is $15,000 or less. If you believe you are entitled to recover more than $15,000, your case should be filed in the Law Division of the Superior Court. If you believe you are entitled to damages greater than $15,000, but still wish to sue in Special Civil, you give up your right to recover damages over $15,000. The additional money cannot be claimed later in a separate lawsuit.

Helpful Information

Typical Claims Filed

Following is a general list of claims that may be filed in Special Civil:

  • Breach of a written or oral contract.
  • Return of money used as a down payment.
  • Property damage caused by a motor vehicle accident.
  • Damage to or loss of property.
  • Consumer complaints for defective merchandise or faulty workmanship.
  • Payment for work performed.
  • Claims based on bad checks.
  • Return of a tenant's security deposit.
  • Claims arising from professional malpractice (for example, alleged malpractice by a doctor, dentist, or lawyer).

Where to File:

Special civil complaints are filed in the county where at least one defendant lives or where the defendant’s business is located. If there is more than one defendant, the complaint can be filed in the county where any of the defendants live or are located. If none of the defendants live or are located in New Jersey, the complaint must be filed where the cause of the complaint occurred.

After the complaint is filed, a trial date will not be set unless the defendant files an Answer with the correct filing fee within 35 days from the date that he/she is served with the complaint. Defendants may file a counterclaim with their answer if they believe that the plaintiff who is suing them owes them money. If the defendant files an answer within 35 days, a trial date will be scheduled. If the defendant does not file an answer, the plaintiff may request that the court enter default judgment.

If a trial is scheduled, both parties will be required to appear. If the plaintiff does not appear at the trial, the case may be dismissed. If the defendant does not appear at the trial, a default judgment may be entered against him/her.

Atlantic County

The Atlantic County
Civil Courts Building
Special Civil Part &
Small Claims
Room #:133 W

1201 Bacharach Blvd
Atlantic City, NJ 08401

Phone #: (609) 594-3326
Fax#: (609) 343-2326

Cape May County

Cape May Courthouse
Special Civil Part &
Small Claims
Room #: DN 203

4 Moore Rd
Cape May Court House, NJ 08210

Phone #: (609) 463-6522
Fax#: (609) 463-6465


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On the day scheduled for trial, the court may help both parties settle the case through mediation by a trained mediator. The mediator will try to help the plaintiff and the defendant reach a satisfactory agreement. The mediator is not a judge. If a settlement cannot be reached, every effort will be made to have the case tried by the judge on the same day.

For more information on mediation, click here.

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Appealing the Court’s Decision:

If you, as a plaintiff or a defendant, disagree with the court's decision, you may appeal the case to the Appellate Division of the Superior Court within 45 days from the date of judgment. You must file a Notice of Appeal, a copy of the Request for Transcript, and a Case Information Statement within the 45 days with the Clerk of the Appellate Division located at the Richard J. Hughes Justice Complex, PO Box 006, Trenton, NJ 08625 and deliver copies to:

  • All parties to the case who appeared in court.
  • The Clerk of the Special Civil Part from which the appeal is taken.
  • The judge who decided the case.

You must pay a filing fee with the Notice of Appeal and deposit $300 with the Clerk of the Appellate Division within 30 days of the Notice of Appeal. This deposit may be used to pay settlement or court costs if the appeal is lost. If the appeal is successful, the deposit will be refunded.

You also must obtain a transcript (a copy of the record of what happened in court) of the trial. The request for a transcript should be made to the Office of the Clerk of the Special Civil Part in the county in which the case was tried. You must deposit with the Clerk the estimated cost of the transcript (as determined by the court reporter, Clerk, or agency preparing it) or $300 for each day or part of a day of the trial. You must file three copies of the transcript with the Office of the Clerk of the Appellate Division. Questions concerning an appeal should be directed to the Office of the Clerk of the Appellate Division at 609-292 4822, or to an attorney.

For more information on the Appellate Court, click here.

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The Special Civil forms, additional court forms, and information are available on the Judiciary website at http://www.judiciary.state.nj.us/forms.htm or can be picked up at the Civil Customer Service Office.

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